Thursday, April 20, 2017

Example of How Maps Can Be Used

Chicago SunTimes, 1994
This 1994 Chicago SunTimes illustrates how I was trying to use GIS maps to fill high poverty inner city neighborhoods with mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

I was introduced to GIS mapping in early 1993 by a volunteer from IBM who was working on a project with the city of Chicago. I attended presentations where the maps were projected on a large screen, and were interactive, meaning the people leading the conversation could build greater understanding of what the map was showing than you could get just looking at a map in a book. In the last decade there have been a few TV police shows using maps this way.

Last night I toured the Electronic Data Visualization lab at  UIC. We met in a classroom where one entire wall was made up of computer screen panels. You could project a single image to fill the entire wall, or you could have mutiple screens open at the same time. Then I experienced the 3-D CAVE where you could walk "inside" a map or a diagram, along with many others, to get a better understanding of what was being discussed.

I've never had the money to apply any of this to my own efforts. So when I see stuff like this, I feel like a "kid in a candy store". I drool with envy.

Well, I just had another similar experience.  The image below is from an ESRI story map, showing food insecurity (hunger) in the Washington, DC area.  I hope you'll open the map and read through the analysis. As you do, imagine the thinking and collaboration implied in this process.


Here's one PDF showing how I have been trying to use maps.  Here's another.  Read articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Blog and you'll see many more. Then imagine being able to put this into story maps like the DC folks have done, and to be able to bring people into a technology center like at Microsoft or UIC and lead a conversation, using the maps, focused on generating the public will and resource flow needed to support the growth and on-going operations of mentor-rich non-school, youth-serving programs which are expanding the network of adults helping kids go from first grade through high school and into adult lives with a job and a career free of poverty.

In the image I'm showing above, the red and yellow dots are partners who help distribute food to those who need it in the DC area.  What I don't see on the story map is a discussion of funding. Not the funding of the Capital Area Food Bank, and this mapping project, but the funding of all of the organizations who need to be involved in this food distribution network.  How are all of these organizations supported? Do they each have the money, talent, technology and resources needed to do this work as well as it needs to be done.  Are there other potential food distribution and education partners, such as non-school programs, which could be another layer of information. Who are the businesses, faith groups, colleges and hospitals who could be involved, or who are already involved?

Those are additional layers of information, conversation and analysis that could go into what is already a fantastic use of GIS technology and data visualization.

In the 1990s I met with folks at the Chicago Food Depository and we talked of their use of maps and my goal for using maps, however, this never led to any of the types of collaboration that might have happened if I had been able to bring more resources, or civic leadership, to the table with me.

It's not too late. The newspapers keep reminding us that we need better strategies to reach youth with alternatives to gangs and violence.

If you can imagine this, can you help me build a team of people, and find the money, to build such a capacity and use it in Chicago and other cities?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mapping Philanthropy - Look at US Deep South States

Here's an effective use of maps as part of a story of philanthropy, or a lack of, in the deep South. It's titled

Where in the World is Big Philanthropy? Not in the Deep South

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chicago Hack Night Celebrates 5 Years - Why I Participate

Last year I wrote this article to show why I attend weekly Chicago Hack Night meetings, which are "Chicago's weekly event to build, share &learn about civic tech".

In a couple of weeks #chihacknight is celebrating five years of weekly meetings and participants have been encouraged to write about why they participate.

I shared reasons for why I participate in last year's article. These have not changed. I attend for the weekly presentations, which expose me to new ideas, and to build relationships with people working in this arena.  However, most of my networking and learning is done in the Slack channel where members interact daily.

I've been able to reach out to forge stronger relationships around area's I'm deeply interested in, such as mapping and public engagement.  However, what's really valuable to me is the daily sharing of articles that I would not be aware of if I were not visiting Slack and following the conversation thread.

For instance, today, I saw a mention of an article titled "What 100K can do for civic journalism in Chicago."  I read the article, then reached out through the City Bureau web site and Twitter feed to introduce the "Rest of the Story" media strategy that I've used since 1993 to draw more frequent attention to neighborhoods where media stories cover bad news, but don't draw resources to help change that to good news.

I shared this 2014 blog article following a shooting in Rodgers Park, which encourages students from local high schools to tell the story via their own writing, videos and social media.

Another example. During the weekly meetings I learned about how one group wanted to create a web portal to help volunteers find places to do service in Chicago. On the Slack channel I learned more about this, and visited the GitHub page to offer my own ideas on this project.

A third example. Another link posted on the Slack channel today was one that pointed to this web site, encouraging Chance the Rapper to run for Mayor of Chicago, and encouraging non-voters to get involved. I visited the site and was really impressed with the creative way it presented this information. So, I looked them up on Twitter and said "great job". I also shared a set of articles I've written with Chicago's Mayor as the focus, and said "You, and people like you, could do these 10,000 times better than I do."  Below is a response to my Tweet.

Often I add links to some of the articles and web sites I find through the Slack conversation to the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library,  making the ideas available to myself in the future, while making them also available to anyone else who ever visits my library.

I've been using maps since 1993 to draw volunteers, donors, talent and ideas to youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods so that there would be a wide range of mentor-rich programs working to help young people grow up safely and enter their adult lives with a network of people helping them....just like what's available to kids in more affluent areas of Chicago and other cities.

The mapping I do has been largely supported by volunteers, so there are many who attend ChiHackNight who could help me do this, and do this better.  Many of the visualizations I show were created by interns, borrowing from ideas I launched in blog articles like this. There are many who could do this better than I do, such as the creators of the Chance4Mayor site. The stories I write here and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog. need to be written by many people, using their own talent, technology and resources, and communicated daily, reaching people in all parts of the Chicago region, motivating on-going, long-term, actions that result in more help for those living in poverty and distressed situations.

For forty years I've learned from the ideas and work being done by others and I've applied this learning to my own efforts. I'm really happy to have ChiHackNight as part of my network and appreciate the dedication and commitment of the organizers who have made these weekly meetings happen for the past five years.

Let's go for 10!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Follow up to negative news about violence, poverty

From Chicago Tribune, 3-12-17
In the 4-part strategy created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to support the growth of mentor-rich non-school programs in Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods, step 2 focuses on building public awareness and drawing needed resources to the youth organizations already operating in these areas.

Since T/MC had no money for advertising, other ways needed to be created to build on-going public awareness. The "Rest of the Story" strategy was invented for this purpose.  You can find examples of this in many past articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor blog.

Following is an example.  The graphic above shows an article on the front page of the March 12 Chicago Tribune, telling the story of one young man living in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. The second part of the graphic is a set of statistics that was included with the article. The Tribune devoted 2 full inside pages to this story, and a commentary on page 2 of today's (March 13) paper.

Only briefly were non-school programs mentioned on Sunday.  No discussion was in the paper about what programs are available, are there enough, how to help them grow, etc. Thus, in a "Rest of the Story" article that would be the focus.

Here's a page from a 2011 presentation that shows the number of kids, age 6-17, below poverty line, in different community areas of Chicago. North Lawndale is at the bottom of the map, and has 4717 kids.  This map was created using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created in 2008, but not updated since 2010, due to my lacking the funds or talent. Yet, it's still a usable tool. Click on green stars to see contact information and web sites of youth orgs in the directory.

T/MC surveys used in the 1990s to collect program information intended to create a more sophisticated understanding of program availability. Thus, on this search page, you're able to sort by type of program (pure mentoring, pure tutoring, or combination tutor/mentor) and by age group served (elementary, middle school and high school).  Using the map layers feature on the Interactive map, leaders could quickly see that there are too few programs serving older youth (and all youth, really) and a poor distribution of existing programs in many of the high poverty areas of the city.  I don't find this type of analysis anywhere on the Internet (If you know of others doing this, please share the link in the comments below).


Here's a more updated map and list of Chicago programs showing the North Lawndale area. Click on each icon to find the name of the organization.

My goal since 1993 has been to create a map platform that could be used to better understand the location and availability of non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago so leaders could help existing programs grow, and create new programs where needed, using the same strategies that corporate offices of large retail organizations use to make high performing stores available near potential customers.  I've never had the resources or partners to do this as well as it needed to be done. The service is still needed, in 2017, in Chicago, and in other cities.

In the asset map section of the Program Locator you can create map overlays showing banks, colleges, faith groups, etc. in different areas, such as North Lawndale.  At the right I'm pointing to another web site that enables users to see businesses in different parts of the city. In this case it is showing banks.

Since there are more than 4500 youth in the area who could benefit from non-school programs, and the map shows that many blocks have no programs, helping existing programs stay in business while helping new programs grow and reach more kids should be the focus of leaders in this area.  At the same time, helping programs learn from each other, and from programs around the world, so each is constantly improving it's ability to attract and retain youth and volunteer participation is also a goal. Several sections of the Tutor/Mentor library point to different types of youth serving programs that could be models for Chicago programs.


This information is intended to be used by groups of people in business, faith groups, media, colleges, non-profit networks, etc. to build strategies that fill the neighborhood with a wide range of birth-to-work youth support programs, supported by the different "assets" who are already located in the neighborhood.

There's a lot of information. Thus a learning process needs to be included as part of any support organization's strategy.

This is another map from the Program Locator, showing the North Lawndale community area, and showing faith groups and other assets. In this case, I've highlighted Ogden Ave, Roosevelt Road and the Eisenhower Expressway, which are three main roads bringing commuters from the suburbs through this neighborhood every day on their way to work.

Part of the effort to support the growth of youth programs in the area would be an on-going effort to motivate some of these people who "drive by poverty" to visit web sites and read blog articles like this, then join in efforts to help programs attract the ideas, talent and dollars each program needs to sustain it's efforts and constantly improve its impact.

I put these graphics in this SlideShare presentation so anyone could use this in an effort to mobilize and educate others. I've also drawn from a collection of strategy presentations in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library for this article.

On the Tutor/Mentor blog I've written a couple of articles recently inviting others to a "do over", using the ideas and strategies I've created since 1993 in a new organizational structure and effort that aims to have a much greater impact in the next 20 years than what I've had in the past 24 years.

I think many others could communicate ideas like this article better than I do. I invite you to "do it over", creating your own version, using your own talent, and reaching your own network of followers. Visit this page to see how interns working with me in Chicago have been doing this for many years.

It's not enough for the media to make us feel bad about young people living in poverty. They need to point us to information and strategies that motivate people who have the ability and resources to provide time, talent and dollars on an on-going basis to support the growth and long-term operations of needed birth-to-work support programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities.

If the media don't do this regularly, it's up to us.

That's the goal of telling "The Rest of the Story" every time the media uses its space to attract reader attention to the problem.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Finding Help for your NonProfit - Business Locator

I've been reviewing links in one section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library and found a site that allows you to map locations of different businesses in different geographic locations.

I created this map, showing banks in Chicago on the near SW side of the city.  If you were operating a youth program in this area, reaching out to these banks for volunteers, board members and donations would make sense, since they share the same geography and its problems and opportunities.

Using the site you can create maps showing a wide range of businesses, not just banks.

The site was not created as a resource for non profits, but instead to support small business development. However, I think creative non profit leaders could use it the way I've described.

Visit the site, click here, and make your own maps.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

500 Cities: Local Data for Better Health

From 500 Cities web site
This map shows 500 cities across the United States which are included in a new data hub created by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

You can use the interactive map to create your own map view, or look at PDF reports for each of the 500 cities. This link points to Chicago maps.

Looking at the maps you quickly see a correlation between poverty and poor health.